GL baseball in line to earn top seed for 61st annual Union County Tournament; Highlanders off to fine 10-1 start

First-round games are April 26, quarterfinals April 30, semifinals May 3 and final May 10.

PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI - The GL baseball team is out to  capture the UCT crown for the first time.
PHOTO COURTESY OF LINDA JENNINGS – The GL baseball team is out to capture the UCT crown for the first time.

The Governor Livingston baseball team has never won the Union County Tournament.

The Highlanders probably never earned the top seed before either.

This could be their year.

GL, with an overall record of 10-1 and a Union County Conference-Watchung Division mark of 4-1, is in line to earn the top seed for the 61st annual baseball UCT.

The seeding meeting is Tuesday night in Cranford.

The UCT will commence Thursday with preliminary-round games, continue Saturday with first-round contests and extend to next Wednesday, April 30 with the four quarterfinals.

The semifinals are scheduled for May 3, most likely at Elizabeth’s Williams Field, and the final for May 10, most likely at KeanUniversity.

The Highlanders have outscored their first 11 foes by an impressive 91-23 margin that includes three shutouts, two vs. county powers Westfield and defending champion Cranford.

Westfield won its record 13th UCT championship in 2012.

Chris Roof has led the Highlanders to every title possible during his tenure as head coach since 2004. GL has won division titles, Highlander Classic championships, sectional titles and the Group 2 state crown in 2011.

However, he is 0-2 in the UCT final, losing both times to Cranford – in 2007 and 2011.

“Any time you’re in the same county as Westfield and Cranford and Union and Elizabeth and even Scotch Plains, for a lot of time those schools are bigger than us,” Roof said. “It definitely doesn’t make it easy.”

Led by the pitching of junior left-hander Ethan Frohman and the hitting of junior third baseman Ian Lynch, GL has scored in double digits five times and  has a record of 2-1 in one-run games and 2-0 in two-run contests.

Through 11 games, Lynch is batting a gaudy .742 (23-for-31), with seven doubles, three home runs and 13 singles. GL’s cleanup batter has 16 RBI and 15 runs and a stellar on-base percentage of .800.

Frohman is 3-0 with a no-decision, pitching only the first three innings of Monday’s 12-2 UCC-crossover home win over Roselle Catholic. Against the Lions, Frohman allowed no runs on one hit, struck out six and walked three.

His first three starts, a 16-1 home win over Elizabeth April 3, a 1-0 home victory over Westfield April 9 and a 6-0 road triumph at Cranford April 16 included him allowing just six hits and only one earned run in 19 innings. In those games combined Frohman had 21 strikeouts, only three walks and an ERA of 0.37, that went further down after Monday’s three shutout frames.

Frohman’s wins are all against Watchung Division foes.

As of Tuesday, GL and Cranford are tied for first in the Watchung Division at 4-1. GL’s only loss is a 4-3 decision at home to Scotch Plains on April 11. The Highlanders began the season 5-0 and are on another five-game winning streak.

“We’ve been getting some good pitching and timely hitting,” Roof said. “Any time you’re recognized as a one seed it’s very humbling, but when all is said and done it’s only a number and, obviously, you have to go out and win games.

“It’s nice, but also it means nothing. You still have to play to the best of your ability and come up with Ws against some very good teams.”

Other GL pitching records include senior right-hander Steve Duda 3-0, fellow senior righty Victor Candeloro 1-1, junior right-hander John Wills 2-0 and fellow junior righty Dan Belfer 1-0.

“We went 14-11 last year and have the whole team back,” Roof said. “Last year was a nice learning curve.

“The test of a real good team is to win those one- and two-run games and we’ve won a couple of those already, so we’re battle-tested when it comes to that.

“However, our kids and coaching staff agree that there is a lot of room for improvement. We haven’t started to hit the way we’re capable of hitting.”

All it takes is the bounce of the ball going against you or a hot pitcher on his game to snuff out a possible county crown.

“Our kids know what’s in store,” Roof said. “They’re not naïve.

“They also know that it’s going to take a lot of hard work, effort and luck.”

 

HERE IS GL’S 11-GAME RESUME FOR TUESDAY NIGHT’S

SEEDING MEETING:

 

April 2 (A) Gov. Livingston 12, Plainfield 1

 

April 3 (H) Gov. Livingston 16, Elizabeth 1

 

April 6 (H) Gov. Livingston 3, New Providence 2

 

April 9 (H) Gov. Livingston 1, Westfield 0

 

April 10 (H) Gov. Livingston 3, Union 1

 

April 11 (H) Scotch Plains 4, Gov. Livingston 3

 

April 12 (H) Gov. Livingston 17, Madison 7

 

April 16 (A) Gov. Livingston 6, Cranford 0

 

April 17 (H) Gov. Livingston 7, New Providence 5

 

April 19 (A) Gov. Livingston 11, Oratory Prep 0

 

April 21 (H) Gov. Livingston 12, Roselle Catholic 2

 

 

JR’S PROJECTED TOP 12 SEEDS:

 

1-Gov. Livingston (10-1), off Tuesday

 

2-Cranford (7-2), Bayonne home Tuesday

 

3-Westfield (5-3), Scotch Plains home Tuesday

 

4-Scotch Plains (6-3), at Westfield Tuesday

 

5-Dayton (9-1), at RosellePark Tuesday

 

6-Union Catholic (10-1), New Providence home Tuesday

 

7-Union (4-5), Linden home Tuesday

 

8-Elizabeth (5-5), schedule lists at Cranford Tuesday

 

9-New Providence (4-5), at Union Catholic Tuesday

 

10-Brearley (4-4), at Oratory Prep Tuesday

 

11-Roselle Park (6-3), Dayton home Tuesday

 

12-Summit (7-3), St. Mary’s, Elizabeth home Tuesday

 

GL has defeated Cranford, Westfield has defeated Scotch Plains,

Dayton has defeated Union Catholic, Union has defeated Elizabeth,

New Providence has defeated Brearley and Brearley has defeated

RosellePark.

 

New Providence and Dayton have also defeated RosellePark.

Dayton, Union and Union Catholic have also defeated Brearley.

Union Catholic has defeated Elizabeth.

 

Scotch Plains is the only team to defeat GL, while RosellePark,

behind senior right-hander Luis Amaro, defeated Scotch Plains.

 

 

UCT TOP SEEDS SINCE 1992:

 

Here are the top seeds since 1992 and

where they advanced to:

 

2013:Cranford, won championship

 

2012:Cranford, lost in quarterfinals

 

2011:Cranford, won championship

 

2010:Westfield, lost in final

 

2009:Scotch Plains, won championship

 

2008:Elizabeth, won championship

 

2007:Elizabeth, lost in semifinals

 

2006:Roselle Catholic, lost in final

 

2005:Cranford, lost in quarterfinals

 

2004:Union, lost in quarterfinals

 

2003:Scotch Plains, lost in semifinals

 

2002:Union, lost in semifinals

 

2001:Union, lost in semifinals

 

2000:Elizabeth, lost in quarterfinals

 

1999:New Providence, lost in final

 

1998:Cranford, lost in final

 

1997:Cranford, lost in quarterfinals

 

1996:Union, lost in semifinals

 

1995:Westfield, won championship

 

1994:Union, lost in quarterfinals

 

1993:Westfield, lost in final

 

1992:Union, lost in semifinals

 

NOTES: GL is 0-3 in the final, losing in the championship game to

Westfield in 1996 and to Cranford in 2007 and 2011.

The top seed went 13 years without winning the event from 1995

when Westfield repeated to 2008 when Elizabeth won for the first

time since 1991.

That trend has reversed in recent years. Now since 2008, the top

seed has won four of the last six tournaments.

Cranford was the top seed the last three years, while Westfield

has appeared in five of the last six finals and the last two.

Westfield lost the title game three years in a row in 2008, 2009

and 2010 and then won it for a record 13th time in 2012 before

losing in the final again last season.

Cranford, which did not win the UCT until 1999, has won the title

three of the last four years and has eight championships total since

1999. The Cougars are also 8-0 in the final since 1999.

Union reached the championship game two years ago for the first

time since the Farmers last won the event in 1993.

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